As a life long student myself, I have designed things at the range with the student in mind. Our classes reflect that also. However it’s the student’s responsibility to come prepared for class. This means a lot more than just “having the right gear” it also means being in the right frame of mind and ready to learn. A good class will push you a little bit and should help you get out of your proverbial “comfort zone” when it comes to training. We are of the mindset that a good class should leave you with the thought “I have a lot to work on” versus just giving you a BS feel good about yourself approach while not pushing your limits. This is what I personally believe separates those who would truly seek to learn “skill at arms” versus those just looking to shoot for fun/feel good experience. You will have fun in class, but you should also learn and develop your skill set.

Often the major hurdle holding back learning is the student himself. Our preconceived notions of our actual abilities versus our real abilities, our “ego” and how we seek to look in front of others, etc. Letting go of some of this is crucial to advanced learning. It’s o.k to make mistakes, but you want to make them on the mats, on the range during practice and NOT on the street in a real life encounter. You want to learn in a safe environment where you can make mistakes and have a chance to learn from them and not make them again, versus “on the job training” (OJT) in an actual bad encounter.

So how do you get ready for class to get the most out of class? First and foremost, come with a good mindset, be open to learn. Be open to new methodologies and skills.

Next, come well rested and hydrated. Having watched a lot of sluggish/tired people in training just muddling through over the years, I want to stress how important this is. Drink a gallon of water the day before class, plan on drinking a gallon of water at least a day during class- don’t worry you won’t drown… Add in a gatorade and perhaps some caffeine drinks to add some sharpness.

Prepare your gear ahead of time. Your instructor will send you a gear list of required and/or recommended gear to bring to class. Get that prepped ahead of time. If it’s a live fire class, make sure most or all of your magazines are loaded before you arrive- I can’t tell you how much time I’ve seen students waste over 3+ decades of training while they were loading magazines at class that could have/should have been loaded before arriving at class. You want your focus as much as possible to be on training and learning, not sitting on the sidelines loading magazines you should have loaded before class. Also, for AR15 magazines especially- count your rounds you put in the magazine. While you might be able to stuff 31 rounds in a 30 round magazine, it is not a “bonus round.” Your magazine will most likely NOT seat correctly with a magazine with 31 rounds in it. Yes, we see someone do this every single class.

Lube your rifle/pistol well. This would also seem like something that doesn’t need to be stated, but seeing many students not even make it past the first or second drill due to dry weapons jamming on them, I realize not everyone pays attention to this. Bring lubricant and support tools for your rifle and pistol. Ideally if your traveling, you will bring along a spare rifle and pistol. Quality ammo is important as well. If you aren’t putting at least 5,000 rounds a year through your rifle or pistol with it you really don’t know how well they will function with low quality ammunition. A training class you have spent money on is not the place to figure out the cheapest ammo won’t work in your rifle. Specifically this would pertain to using reloaded ammo and steel cased ammo in AR15s- avoid these so as to enjoy class and not be standing around clearing jams.

Safety expectations- You will required to arrive at the range with your weapons unloaded. You will be expected to carry/utilize your firearm in a manner where you are always in control of the muzzle. That means keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe directions (ideally straight down) while not shooting. This includes a rifle being on a sling- you must still maintain positive control of the weapon and specifically where the muzzle is pointed AT ALL TIMES while on the range. Short barrel rifles and pistol type carbines equal a small platform and shorter length making muzzle control slightly more difficult for those not used to it. If you have a full size/carbine size rifle we suggest bringing that instead. Some classes may have prescribed load/unload procedures and the student is expected to perform these as instructed. For the safety of all participating, if a student presents himself in an unsafe manner they can be removed from class due to this.

Zeroing your weapon- it’s not uncommon for a student to arrive at a class with a brand new rifle, brand new optic they just put on it the night before, etc. This is NOT good and will cause you to miss a lot of training while trying to catch up. You should take the time before class to be sure your rifle and optic are zeroed. This advice (like all of this) is designed for YOU to get the most out of class. Zero your rifle/optic before class, check tightness of all optic mounts and use loc tite where necessary. For night vision classes, we realize not everyone has access to a range that will “allow” you to shoot at night, and therefore some will not have a zeroed IR laser. We make time allowances for this in our Night vision classes, but your daylight optic should be zeroed before you arrive at class.

Student doing a movement drill followed by instructor at Midnight Rendezvous 1.0

All of these suggestions are for you, it’s in your best interest to take these to heart in order to get the most out of class. As a life long student myself, these recommendations have served me well over 3+ decades.